This is a difficult subject that is fraught with pitfalls. Smart people with seminary degrees won’t go near the issue. However, charitable and affiliation contributions are a big part of life for many people. No discussion about personal finance is complete without at least touching on the topic.
The reason this topic is so fraught is that it has theological ramifications that no one wants to touch. That is why we must separate any theological implications from the financial literacy side of the equation.
This is not advice to go against your church’s mandates. Churches are not the only consideration.
In this time of unprecedented need due to the pandemic, charitable organizations need your help more than ever.
But sometimes, you just can’t give like you want to.
It is hard to know how much to give to organizations during the best of times. And these are far from the best of times.
Without many generous donations from people like you, your favorite organizations would fold. No one wants to see that happen.
But what are you supposed to do about your commitments and dues when times are tough for you?
Here are a few thoughts that will help you form your own conclusions:
Keep Track of What You Give
Emotional spending is bad even when it is for a good cause.
It does you no good to keep a tight rein on your shopping mall spending when your charitable spending is out of hand.
No reputable church, charity, or any other organization would want you to donate to the point where you need to receive a charitable donation, yourself.
Emotional donations are especially dangerous if you do not have a good way to keep up with what is going out of your account.
The good news is that online church donations don’t have to fall into that category.
You can give it any way you like, from writing a check to sending a text with the amount of the donation.
Best yet, these apps help you keep track of every penny you give regardless of how you give it.
When money is tight, it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on what you are giving.
Stay in Sync with Your Partner
Unilateral giving is fine if you’re single.
But it doesn’t work so well when you are married.
There are many ways money issues can ruin your relationship.
High on the list is making impactful financial decisions without your partner being on board.
No matter how good the cause is, it is not worth it if your relationship is the price.
Be Sure You Are Happy
Some preachers will tell you to give until it hurts; then give some more.
From a financial literacy perspective, your charitable giving should feel good.
And like the best advice from your doctor, stop when it starts to hurt.
Doing good should not feel bad. You can love yourself and leave debt behind all at the same time.
When charitable giving starts to feel uncomfortable, you should evaluate your finances and target the reason for the discomfort.
Don’t Give If the Website Seems Sketchy or Insecure
Even good causes can have bad websites and financial handling systems.
Use the best money transfer apps with trusted reviews.
If you are going to use your phone as a conduit for giving to organizations, be sure to do it safely and prudently.
Don’t do it in public where people can shoulder surf your personal information.
If you are not very careful, your phone can become an easy target for hackers.
Continually Evaluate Your Ability to Give
When you started giving at your current level, you might have had a good job and a lot of financial security.
But those things can change in a heartbeat.
When your circumstances change, your giving should change with it.
At the very least, you should reevaluate whether continuing to give at that level still makes sense.
You are not being disloyal by reevaluating your donation level.
You are being financially irresponsible if you don’t.
Giving is a matter of conscience. You are the ultimate authority when it comes to matters of your own conscience. Just remember it is also a matter of personal finance.
Inform your conscience with a reminder that you should keep close track of all your giving. Stay in sync with your partner. Give until you’re happy, not until you hurt.
Avoid sketchy methods of transferring money. And continue to reevaluate your situation to keep your giving in line with your reality.